Disinfo: International observers praised Russian vote in Crimea

Summary

Dozens of international observers watched the all-Russian voting on the law on amendments to the Russian constitution, which took place in the neighboring country from 25 June to 1 July. An EU delegation has even arrived in Crimea to observe the voting process. International observers praised the legitimate vote in Crimea.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative attempting to portray a gradual acceptance of Crimea's position within Russia, especially by the West. Members of the European Parliament who visited the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea did not represent the EU and did not constitute an observation mission of the European Parliament, the press service of the EР said. “We know that some members of the European Parliament and other citizens act as so-called observers in the Crimea when voting on Russian constitutional amendments. They are not EU official representatives, they are not an official EU delegation and they are not an observation mission of the European Parliament,” said Peter Stano, Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to Ukrainian media. The EU also condemned the vote, which took place in the temporarily occupied Crimea in violation of international law.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 205
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/07/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: EU, Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Manipulated elections/referendum, Crimea

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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The EU Association Agreement made Ukraine a colony of the European Union

The Europeans are happy to accept cheap labour from Ukraine and to carefully monitor that Ukraine respects its obligations to remain a colonial appendage of the EU, which, in addition to human resources, also requires raw materials needed by Western producers.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine, which is often claimed to be under external control from the US, NATO, the EU, or IMF. Ukraine is a sovereign state. The EU does not control Ukraine. Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by most of the free world, confirmed by the resolutions of the United Nations, but violated by Russia. Ukraine is a priority partner for the EU. In June 2014, the EU and Ukraine signed an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which promotes deeper political ties, stronger economic links and the respect for common values. Since 2014, the EU and the Financial Institutions have mobilised more than €15 billion in grants and loans to support the reform process, with strong conditionality on continued progress. See here for more details about EU-Ukraine relations. Since 2016, there has been a steady increase in the export of more value added products, such as machinery and appliances and transport equipment, while the number of companies exporting to the EU has increased from 11,700 companies in 2015 to more than 14,500 companies in 2019. The total trade turnover increased to 52.6 bln USD in 2019. During 2015-2019, Ukraine also increased its exports to the EU from 13 bln USD to 24 bln USD. Overall in 2019, Ukrainian exports to the EU increased by 3.9%. Now, the EU accounts for almost half of Ukrainian exports. The EU remains a key trading partner of Ukraine with a share of 40.1%. See here for more details about EU-Ukraine trade relations. See similar claims alleging that the EU Association Agreement destroyed the Ukrainian economy and that Ukraine and its economy became a Western colony.

MH17: Russia was found guilty without an investigation into the crash

Many Western countries led by the United States immediately blamed the militia of the republics and Russia [for the crash of the MH17]. The West used the crash of the Malaysian Boeing as a reason for introducing a new round of anti-Russian sanctions and forcing tension in the international arena over in Ukraine. In addition, Russia was declared guilty without the results of the investigation being presented.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine, aiming to discredit the criminal trial and the Joint Investigation Team (JIT). This claim also misrepresents the history and causes of the EU’s sanctions on Russia. The first EU sanctions against Russia were introduced on 17 March 2014, before MH17 was shot down. The first bans and asset freezes against persons involved in actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity followed Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. Later, in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in eastern Ukraine, the EU imposed economic sanctions in July 2014 and reinforced them in September 2014. In March 2015, the European Council linked the duration of those economic restrictions to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements. The Dutch-led criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been ongoing since 2014. The results of the investigation of the Joint Investigation Team are clear: flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series, which was launched by the BUK TELAR system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the city of Pervomaiskiy in eastern Ukraine, from where the rocket was launched. After firing, the system with one missing missile, returned to the Russian Federation. On 24 May 2018, the JIT announced in its conclusion that the Buk belongs to the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces in Kursk, Russian Federation. The public hearing of the criminal trial over the downing of the flight MH17 started on 9 March 2020 in the Netherlands. On the basis of the investigation conducted by the JIT, consisting of law enforcement agencies from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands, the Dutch Public Persecution service is prosecuting Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko for causing the MH17 crash and murdering all 298 persons on board. The Public Prosecution Service alleges that the four individuals cooperated to obtain and deploy the BUK TELAR at the firing location with the aim of shooting down an aircraft. For that reason, they can also be held jointly accountable for downing of flight MH17. You can see other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation on the MH17 case in our database, such as claims that JIT tampered with the evidence; that the plane was not downed by a BUK missile, but rather by a Ukrainian fighter; that the plane crash was triggered by an explosion on board; that the trial in The Hague is not justice but information warfare; that Moscow-supplied radar data was rejected; or that the MH17 crash was planned by Ukrainian, American, and Dutch intelligence agencies.

Amendments to the Constitution of Russia confirm the Russian status of Crimea

The all-Russian vote on the law on amendments to the Russian constitution, which took place from June 25 to July 1, caused a huge stir in the Crimea. Crimeans, as in 2014, confirmed their intention to be part of Russia. The amendment to the constitution “on the protection of the integrity of Russia” forever establishes the Russian status of Crimea making the process of returning Crimea to Ukraine impossible.

Disproof

Pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Crimea. Both the Crimean “vote” for “joining Russia” in 2014 and the “vote” for amendments to the Russian constitution in Crimea are not recognised by the Western world. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine emphasises that the results of the Russian vote in the Crimea are legally null, have no legal consequences worldwide and are not recognised by Ukraine or the international community. Representatives of the European Union condemned the vote for amendments to the Russian constitution in annexed Crimea. The EU emphasised that Russian voting in the occupied Ukrainian territory is a violation of international law. The United Kingdom and the United States adhere to the same point of view: “We are concerned about reports that Russia uses Crimea to conduct unauthorised polls, once again violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We insist that Crimea is Ukraine,” the diplomats emphasise. Moreover, the Russian constitution has nothing to do with Ukrainian territories. According to Ukrainian laws, as well as international legal norms, Crimea is the territory of Ukraine and no Kremlin amendments can prevent the de-occupation of the peninsula.